I love it when a really simple website asset generates links and is completely and utterly useful for their users as well.

Calculator style tools are a solid example of that and one that has been in use since long before I started in SEO in 2009.

In this sub 15 minute Youtube video, I’ve shared:

  • Examples of calculators at play for link building in 2024
  • How to come up with ideas for some of your own
  • How to simplify the process of building them by AI to do most of the legwork

Building Links with Calculator Tools


  Calculators for link building by no means a new concept, people were already using calculators to build links long before I got into the SEO game in 2009. So it’s not innovative, it’s not new, it’s not overly creative, but actually calculators are another really great case for keeping it simple with your link building.

Even still today in 2024, calculator pages build links passively, but more than that, they’re genuinely useful, genuinely helpful content for your users as well. And courtesy of tools like ChatGPT, it’s easier than ever before to create one and publish it quickly with no coding expertise whatsoever. Let’s take a look.

Calculators build links passively. Terms and conditions may apply. We’ll talk about that more shortly. But I’m going to go back to a really obvious example first, and that’s Money Saving Expert. Money Saving Expert has dozens of very simple calculators across its website. Some examples here, their tax calculator, again, a really simple take home pay calculator based on the UK tax system, 440 referring domains, and it includes some really decent websites like ITV, Lloyds Bank Metro.

In most cases, when someone’s linking back to the free online calculator from Money Saving Expert, it’s not necessarily content about the calculator. Metro produces a lot of content aimed at bringing in traffic searching for something specific right now. This is a good example of that. When does the tax year end for 2021 22?

This whole piece is about when the tax year ends. It is not about the calculator. But Metro appreciates that it would be useful for people to know a bit more information and be able to calculate certain things. So they send people off to Money Saving Experts calculator. It’s a similar story here. Again, Lloyds bank, they’re actually writing about budgeting tips, but they’ve included a link to Money Saving Experts take home pay calculator because they don’t have their own.

Another example of a calculator from Money Saving Expert is this one, basic mortgage rate calculator, which has links from 479 referring domains. Some really decent domains in there as well. This energy price cap unit rates calculator. Another very, very simple calculator with 246 referring domains. Again, a really decent selection of websites included amongst that.

Minimum credit card repayment calculator and notice here that these are finance calculators. So they do come with warnings like, oh, this is estimated. Go get professional advice. But again, 137 referring domains. They’ve generated thousands of inbound links through calculators and none of these calculators are overly complex.

Now, stands to reason that calculators would work in finance, right? But actually you can use calculators in so many more niches than just finance. As a hiker, here’s an example that I’m obviously quite keen on. This is a hiking time calculator. And it’s based on Naismith’s rule, which is just a simple formula for calculating hiking time based on distance and elevation.

Now, as a hiker myself, I know that these estimates are often absolute bullshit. Bullshit, because they don’t take into account things like stopping to piss around and take photos or stopping because you’re so unfit that you’re hanging out of your own arse, which I do frequently. And they also don’t take into account the bit where you rush because you’ve left it too late to set off and you’d ideally like to get back before sunset so you go really fast.

It’s just an estimate. Nonetheless, an estimate based on a really simple formula, Naismith’s rule, and it has links from over a hundred referring domains, including New York Times. Very, very simple. Now, I’m not saying calculators will work in every single niche, but they’ll work in more niches than we might automatically think.

So I want to just quickly go through some ways in which you might find opportunities to create calculators in your own space. You may already have a load of ideas for things that would lend themselves to calculators specific to your niche sector websites. If you don’t, one simple way to go off and find some ideas is Google auto suggest.

So if you go off to Google and you type in how to calculate, you’ll find all the really obvious stuff first. Now, if you’re just looking for ideas in any sector, a quick run through the alphabet will give you a ton of different ideas. Loads of different things that people looking to calculate. If you’ve already got some ideas, let’s say you are a home improvements brand and maybe you’re looking at selling paint, how to calculate and paint.

So how to calculate paint needed for a wall, how to calculate paint mixing ratio. There’s some ideas. Other things in home improvements, things like flooring, how much flooring somebody needs, can they calculate that? There’s all kinds of things that you can find out here,

time taken to do something. So I like to do just a lot of random Google auto suggest searches, or you can use your keyword tools to do it relating to how to calculate, how to work out and things like. Keywords relating to my products or specific service areas. And that is actually a really nifty way to find some opportunities specific to your sector.

Just when I was making some of those searches myself, specifically around home improvements, I noticed that DIY. com, which is the website of B& Q, it’s a home improvements brand in the UK. They’ve actually already produced a few little calculators for home improvements related stuff. And they’re very, very simple.

This is the wallpaper calculator. It isn’t dressed up. It doesn’t look amazing. It’s not all singing or dancing. It’s a very simple calculator. Enter your wall height and then optionally enter areas that you don’t want to cover. So doors and windows and then also optionally allow an additional 10 percent wastage.

Now to be clear, this is an incredibly simple calculation it’s making here. Very, very simple. And the calculator hasn’t been dressed up to look amazing or do anything fancy. It’s so, so simple. But genuinely useful. I had a quick look at the links to their calculators and they’ve got links from 99 referring domains to the calculators, sort of subcategory, according to Semrush.

And as always with links that are generally acquired naturally, it’s always going to be a bit of a mixed bag in terms of quality and. Uh, topics and types of website, but it includes some really big ones like House Beautiful, Money Saving Expert, Yours Magazine, Irish Examiner, even the Southampton Council website here in the UK.

So they’ve produced a decent number of high quality links, essentially with very, very, very simple calculator content. Now, once you’ve got an idea for a calculator of your own, you just need to create it and create the content that’s going to surround it on the landing page. In many cases, ChatGPT in Gemini can do this for you.

It’s just a case of writing a decent prompt. For a simple calculator, you really only need information about the input that the calculator needs from the user and the output it should give in exchange, any units, and of course, information about the formula itself. If you’re using a specific formula like Naismith’s rule, then actually I’ve found that it’s better to put the formula itself into the prompt as opposed to just leaving AI to go and find that information for itself.

So I actually tested recreating that hiking tool calculator. In AI to work out how simple that would be. And when I gave a prompt that just told AI to base this on Naismith’s rule, the output was incorrect every time from both Gemini and ChatGPT. On the other hand, when I gave the prompt, I included within the prompt what Naismith’s rule is, and therefore how the calculation should be done, it was absolutely fine.

So, if your calculation is anything other than a simple multiplication or division, I often find putting specifics about how you want your output calculated increases the chances that your calculator is going to be wrong. accurate the first time. For something really simple, let’s say marathon pace calculator.

This can be a very, very, very short prompt. So in this case write the code for a simple embeddable calculator called the marathon time pace calculator. Users input their target time in hours and minutes and then you, um, the users will tell you whether they want their pace in miles per hour or kilometers and the calculator will tell them what pace.

Per mile or kilometer they need to run in order to achieve their time. Very simple. People could calculate this on their form. I don’t think it’s one that I would use in the real world. But just as an example, this was a very short prompt. The output was absolutely fine. Output looks a bit like this. If you want an all in one embeddable code for a WordPress website, you can get that too.

And ChatGPT also goes one step further and gives you a little how to embed in WordPress. If you’ve never done that before, isn’t that cute? So I’ve done around 20 of these calculators over the last 6 months or so as part of a link building test. And Only five or six have ever been that simple. They generally require a bit more information in the prompt.

So I wanted to share an example of a prompt for something slightly more detailed. Um, this was actually not specifically a link building test, but just testing how easy and how quickly you can create certain calculators. And this was intended for a calculator that would Be for small businesses to calculate how much their staffing costs would increase when the national minimum wage rose in April this year.

So I had to put a bit more information in. So I asked it to create the code for a calculator that I could embed. I gave it the calculator title, and I told it that users will put in the number of employees they’ve got aged 21 and over on minimum wage, the number of employees aged 18 to 20, the number of employees aged 16 to 17, and the average number of hours they work.

I told it what the output should be and the wording to be used in the output. And I used wording like this. Your average minimum wage employee staff bill, not including any national insurance contributions, will go from X in 2023 24 to Y in 2024 25. This is an increase of Z per year. And then I just explained what X and Y and Z are.

Then I gave it information specifically around X. What data should power that calculation? So I gave it the national minimum wage for each age group of staff at the 20, 23, 24 levels. I gave it the new minimum wage for 24, 25 levels and then I gave it this information. I want Users to find out how much their wage bill is going to go up.

And this is intended for small business owners in things like hospitality, where lots of their staff are minimum wage staff. And this worked absolutely fine. Now the prompt might take a little bit of time. You might need to go and do a bit of research into specifically how to calculate the thing that you want to calculate.

But it’s worth doing that. And then do manually test these calculators. Do an example, then manually calculate it yourself and make sure that they’re right. I have found with a detail prompt that they’re almost always right, but you do need to check and test. So at the outset here I said calculators build links passively and I heavily caveated that with terms and conditions apply.

Bye. The terms and conditions are basically that users need to be able to find it. People who are looking for a calculator to include in their own content need to be able to find it. I start with basic keyword research using income tax calculator as an example here. You’ve got a big volume keyword there for income tax calculator, but you’ve also got volume in other queries that indicate people do need the calculator, but perhaps are not actively searching for a calculator yet.

Another handy thing to do is if you’re creating a calculator, the likes of which does already exist somewhere else, put the URL through SEMrush and find out what they’re already ranking for. Pick yourself out a basic keyword list like we do with any landing pages. Like we’re all very familiar with an SEO, cover the basic optimization on the website itself, and you may rank straight away.

In which case, lucky you. However, if you’re not that fortunate and you do not rank straight away. You may actually have to do some outreach or other methods to build links to that page early on to help it start ranking for those queries that you’ve identified. Another effective method if you do have volume around these calculator queries that you’re targeting is to do PPC to earn the first links.

Calculator as a query. Tends not to have a lot of paid search competition, probably because it’s not a commercial query. So it doesn’t tend to convert to sales and things very well as such. I’ve found generally much like with statistics queries that click costs are much, much lower. So to get the first early traffic through to that and get the first early links through and help it start ranking.

Take care of itself. You might choose to do some PPC early on and ultimately as with any link building content, measure it, tweak it, and make sure you keep it up to date.

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